Forex scarcity, others hurting manufacturing sector- M&B boss

The Managing Director, Chief Executive, May & Baker Nigeria, Pharm Patrick Ajah, has decried the scarcity of foreign exchange (Forex) and multiple duties in the economy, saying that they are hurting the manufacturing sector.

Speaking at the company’s Customers’ Forum in Lagos, Ajah called on the government to urgently address these challenges and other unfriendly policies affecting ease of doing business in the country.

Ajah stated: “Companies like us import most of our raw materials. To import these materials, we need forex. Before 2016, companies never worried about forex, but these days, we don’t get forex and if we don’t get forex, it would be difficult to bring in products. “Fluctuation in exchange rate is another problem; when there is no supply, you cannot plan.

“These days you don’t know the duties you are paying because new people keep bringing up new policies. The government needs to sit down and understand the problem manufacturing companies are having. Many companies are going down with the challenges in the economy; the government needs to really pay attention to the problems companies are having, especially in the area of forex, ease of doing business, and harassment from government agencies. The harassment from government agencies is getting too much.

“To send products from Lagos to the North, the checkpoints are enormous with police harassment, ease of doing business is the worst in this country. Even our customers are having similar challenges.”

While commending the customers, Ajah said the organization would work harder to support them in 2023 as well as to sustain the partnership and impact on their business during the year.

He disclosed that the organization targets to deliver N20 billion in revenue in 2023 financial year.

He said: “As expected, we have set ourselves a higher target for 2023, which is to deliver a revenue of N20 billion. This is a milestone target, and we know that with your help, it is achievable. To give ourselves a greater chance of meeting this target, we recently made some changes in our field management structure to ensure a better focus of our National and District Sales Managers, and I am sure we have already started seeing the difference.

“We have also made some investments in acquiring new machines and machine parts to beef up our capacity to produce more to meet the growing needs of our products in the marketplace.

We are also in the process of launching some new products to further enrich our portfolio. These and many more, I believe will help us serve you better this year and thus help us achieve this year’s target.

“2022 was yet another tough year for business. Just as the world was trying to recover from the impact of COVID-19, the Russian invasion of Ukraine brought another major disruption to global business. There were yet further disruptions in global supply chains, the prices of raw materials escalated (some as much as 100 percent), high cost of forex due to unavailability from official sources, excessive cost of power, especially due to the high cost of diesel, among others were some of the challenges.

“All these challenges obviously made it difficult for us to deliver our budget as projected. We were able to deliver 86 percent of our budget in 2022. This was not a bad result given the challenges already enumerated,” he said.

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